According to one author at TIME Magazine, Mother’s Day conjures up thoughts and ideas of women serving traditional female roles. And that can be sexist.
The author doesn’t go so far as saying Mother’s Day is sexist, rather she says that Mother’s Day reinforces gender stereotypes.
How do we celebrate Mother’s Day? Well, it’s Mom’s day off. This is the day she does no cooking, no cleaning and, of course, no childcare. She is brought breakfast in bed and taken out to a restaurant. Cards abound that show women soaking in bubble baths, sipping wine, reading books with their feet up. Mother’s Day is the one day she doesn’t have to be a mother, a job for which she is on duty the other 364 days.
Father’s Day, by contrast, is thought of as the day that Dad does spend with his children. It’s a day for a family barbecue, or to take Dad fishing or on some other activity he enjoys. Dad doesn’t need a break from all the caretaking he does all year — rather this is a day to engage him in family life.
Other messages in Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards also reinforce sex stereotypes. Moms are thanked for the hugs, for drying the tears, for “always being there.” Dads, though, tend to be thanked as role models and individuals to look up to. A typical Hallmark Father’s Day card reads, “Integrity. Respect. Honor. I learned these things from you.”
Of course, there is not a thing wrong with children saying thank you for all those cuddles and comfort, or for expressing gratitude for models of strength and responsibility. These are all lovely sentiments. The question is: why in 2013, are we still dividing all these traits by gender? It’s insulting to both women and men and it has less and less to do with contemporary American families. Dads can be nurturers. Moms can be role models. Many, of course, already are.